When the custodial or noncustodial parent has decided that a relocation is inevitable, presenting a clear parenting plan to the co-parent should be the next step. First, it shows the court and those involved that you are committed to keeping the other parent involved in the child’s life. Second, it can save you a large, legal headache by speaking with the parent so they have the opportunity to discuss the intricacies involved ahead of time. Lastly, if the children are old enough to understand what is happening and see that both parents are working together, it can make the adjustment a little easier for them, instead of watching their parents argue.
Walking a Mile in Their Shoes
Whether the children are in elementary, middle or high school can affect how they respond to the transition. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Will they be surrounded by extended family upon relocating or leaving those loved ones behind?
- Do they make new friends each year at school or spend most of their time with just a few close friends?
- Will they be giving up extracurricular activities that are meaningful to them (teachers, coaches, teammates, instructors, religious leaders, and/or mentors)?
- Will this life change be beneficial for any behavioral or health-related issues they may have? Will it exacerbate it?
Explaining the relocation to a six-year old versus a 16-year old are two completely different conversations. Imagine how it will affect them and take into account their needs just as much as yours.
Create a Parenting Plan
Before you go full speed ahead and start packing up your belongings, take the time necessary to create a parenting plan that documents a variety of aspects including:
- State law regarding relocation parameters (distance, written notice, and objections)
- Your divorce judgment and restrictions
- Travel expenses if considered a long-distance move
- Changes in visitation if weekly visits will prove to be a hardship
- Longer holiday/seasonal visitations
- More options for communication (phone, text, email, and Facetime/Skype)
By working together and keeping the other parent involved, this can make the relocation process a smoother transition for all. If you have any questions regarding how to implement a parenting plan, contact us, and we’ll be happy to provide legal advice.